Mage's Fire

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Ten: Nadia

“Wait… what?”

I stared at Riley in disbelief. So were Eddie and Drew, eyes wide and mouths open in an O. She had just told us about her meeting with the Guardians last night, and how they told her that an entire rogue pack of werewolves was coming to Wolf Valley for revenge.

In order to have regular pack meetings in peace, the werewolves, Jack, and I had made our schedules for the second semester with a free period in first hour. Wolf Valley High had a block schedule, which meant Monday and Wednesday, we had our odd-numbered classes, Tuesday and Thursday we had our evens, and on Friday, all of the classes were shorter and all on the same day. We were currently sitting in the Hideout, Wolf Valley’s top coffee shop, were we had our regular pack meetings.

Jack still hadn’t returned from his hunt. I was worried about him that morning, so I sent him a text. He responded just then, saying, All’s fine. Wrapping things up, will be home by the end of the week. How are things going at home?

I laughed. Um… they’ve been better. At that, he called. I answered, put him on speaker, and said, “Hey, Jack. You’re on speaker.”

“Hey, N,” he said, having taken to calling me by my nickname. Riley and the wolves murmured a hello, then he said, “What’s going on?”

Riley sighed. She took a few moments to tell Jack what had been going on, and when she finished, he took a while to respond. Finally, he said, “Well, shit.”

Drew laughed. “That’s what I would have said if I wasn’t still processing,” she said.

“The Guardians are powerful,” he said. “Their entire ancestral line stems from the first werewolves. For every hundred werewolves, there’s one Guardian. They usually only send one Guardian out to every pack that may need protection, or guidance. For them to send four to help you, Rye… this isn’t good.”

“No shit,” Riley mumbled. “Jack, how many werewolves do you think Dominic turned? Present company excluded.”

He sighed. “Dominic’s been on his own for almost ten years,” he said. “Who knows how many of his wolves are out there? If the Guardians can only track seven of them, that means the others are either covering their tracks, or they’re staying hidden. If I had to make a guess, it’s probably the wolves farther out east that are keeping a low profile. It’s no easy task traveling this country by vehicle, and I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them are staying in wolf form.”

Someone called Jack’s name off in the background. From the tone, it sounded like Jadyn. Jack listened to her for a moment before he came back to us, saying, “Listen, I’ve gotta go. I’ll be back as soon as I can. You guys are all still practicing, right?”

We nodded. Then I realized that he couldn’t see us, so I said, “Yeah, we’re still practicing.” After having dinner with Gramma last night, I drove over to Riley’s house to pick her up, and we met Drew and Eddie at my dad’s cabin to practice. It was where Riley and her wolves, the West Mountain Pack, met on full moons. We had also converted the basement, which had been used as storage, into our own martial arts studio. With help from Jack and his family, of course.

“Good,” Jack said. “I’ll see you guys soon. Stay safe.” After that, he hung up.

Riley sighed and bowed her head, running her fingers through her hair, loosening the French braid she had put it in. Eddie reached over, resting a hand on her back. “It’s gonna be all right, Rye.”

She didn’t raise her head as she asked, “Will it?”

For third period, Riley and I had Psychology with Mrs. Harrison. When we were freshmen and sophomores, she was one of the teachers that we absolutely loved to torment. That all changed, though, when Riley was bitten. She noticed that something had changed in our lives, but up to this point, she had never brought up to us.

The bell rang. As usual, there were a few late stragglers. When one guy stepped into the room, someone I had never seen before, Riley stiffened in her seat. I frowned at her. “What is it?” I asked.

She turned in her seat to face me. “It’s him,” she whispered. When I gave her a what the hell? look, she hissed out, “Kai.”

Oh… I took a second to observe him. Holy crap, he was big! He had to be at least six foot one. He had to walk by us to one of the empty seats in the back, and when he passed by Riley, she sat in her seat with a stiff back, refusing to look at him. He smirked as he walked by, and it wasn’t until he passed that Riley released the breath she had been holding.

Mrs. Harrison, who had been sitting at her desk, stood as the last person came in. Once everyone had been seated, she stepped to the center of the front of the room, holding a piece of paper in one hand. I frowned. The light was shining on the paper in just the right direction… oh no. It looked suspiciously like a seating schedule.

“All right, you guys,” Mrs. Harrison said, instantly calling our attention. Some teachers had trouble keeping their classes under control, but not Mrs. Harrison. When she spoke, it was in a voice of such confidence, it demanded attention. That, and she never took anyone’s bullshit. I lost count of the number of times she had sent me and Riley to the office.

“For the remainder of the semester,” she continued, “we’re going to be conducting a series of psychological experiments. You will all have options to choose from based on the subjects we have covered this year. Not only that, you’re going to be working in groups, of which I have already assigned. Before we get started, I want to briefly introduce our newest student, Kai Brennan. His previous school was on the same schedule we are on, so he is joining us for the remainder of the school year. Please make him feel welcome.”

As students turned in their seats to look at Kai, myself included, Mrs. Harrison said, “I will call your names by group, but I want you to remain seated until I have finished. Once I’m done, you may move to new seats so you can be with your group.” And with that, she was off.

Riley and I both had our fingers crossed as she read the names and their groups. We may have been the spawn of the devil our first two years of high school, but Riley and I always performed best when we were together. Surely Mrs. Harrison would show mercy and put us together again?

“And finally,” she said, lowering the paper, “Riley and Nadia. Kai, I’m sorry to say that I already made the groups before you arrived, but if you’re all right with it, I’ll place you with Riley and Nadia, since they’re the only group of two.”

Riley inhaled sharply. I glanced back at Kai. He smiled and said, “I’m fine with that, thank you.”

She nodded once, then turned to the rest of the class and said, “All right. You may now move to your groups.”

There was a collective sound of chairs scraping against the floor, notebooks shuffling, and backpacks moving from one spot on the floor to the other as students moved. Kai rose, approached us, and then lowered himself into the seat in front of Riley. Everyone was moving their desks into a group formation, so Kai turned his desk so he was facing Riley. He smirked as he leaned back in his seat, crossing his arms over his chest. “Hello, Silver Wolf,” he said.

Riley groaned and dropped her forehead to the desktop. “I am in Hell,” she muttered.

Kai only laughed.

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